Evolution of a Cover

MaryJoPutney_TheChinaBride_800Evolution of a Cover

by Mary Jo

Publishing is all kinds of complicated, so I decided to look at one small piece, which is the story behind my new cover for The China Bride.

The second of my Bride trilogy, the book features Troth Montgomery, daughter of a Chinese woman and a Scottish trader.  She's a great character, strong and brave and vulnerable from having been raised between two worlds.  I knew that writing her story would be a challenge because I'm a farm girl from Western New York but my mother had lived in China as a girl, and she told us stories about her life there, so that part of the world has always intrigued me. 

So I did a lot of research about China and the tea trade in the early 1830s. (Very interesting!) Also, during the months when I was planning this book, if I received a fan email from a reader with a Chinese name, I pounced and asked if she'd be willing to read my manuscript when it was done. Five lovely, intelligent women of Chinese heritage agreed to help, for which I'm forever grateful. 

The story logic of the trilogy led me there because the hero, Kyle Renbourne, had appeared in The Wild Child, book 1 ofCHina Bride larger the trilogy.  He was portrayed as a restless young man who yearned to travel, but who had been tied to England because he was heir to an earldom.  At the end of that book, he was breaking free and setting off to fulfill his travel dreams. 

The China Bride began when Kyle reached China and the city of Macao.  He knows that this is the end of his journeying for it's time to return home to assume his responsibilities.  Then Kyle meets Troth Montgomery.  Orphaned young, she'd been taken into the household of a powerful Chinese trader who requires her to dress as a man and act as a translator when dealing with Western merchants.  She feels like a a hopeless misfit.  Kyle realizes that she's female and asks her to take him into forbidden China to fulfill a life long goal.  In return he will make it possible for her to travel to Britain, the land of her father and his family. 

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Novellas: A Little Bit of Christmas!

MaryJoPutney_TheBlackBeastofBelleterre_800By Mary Jo

There have been novella anthologies on many themes and for many holidays, but Christmas novella anthologies blow all the rest out of the water. 

A novella is usually defined as between 20K and 40K words, so it's more than a short story–it's long enough to have character development, a proper romance, and a plot.  Christmas, with warm fuzzies and over the top sentimentality, is perfect for novellas. <G>

Those of us who started out as Regency writers at NAL tend to have written more than our share of Christmas novellas–I certainly have!  I've collected mine into two different collections:  CHRISTMAS REVELS, with five novellas, and CHRISTMAS CANDLES, which has two novellas. 

But today's riff is because I've produced two of the stories from Christmas Revels as standalone e-books: The Christmas Cuckoo has been available as an e-book for several years, and I quite recently produced an audiobook version which is available for a very modest sum. 

 

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Another Cover Story: One Perfect Rose

 Pacific Northwest Oct. 2008 007by Mary Jo

In a perfect world, every book would have a perfect harmony of story, title, and cover. Of course the world isn't perfect, even with a book named One Perfect Rose.

It's often difficult to recall how I've come up with a story, but I actually remember the origin of the plot for OPR. I had been writing my Fallen Angels series, which was built around four men who had attended Eton and became close as brothers because they all needed a family. Other friends appeared so the series got longer as more intriguing men appeared on the scene.

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Uncommon Vows: A Cover Odyssey

MaryJoPutney_UncommonVows_1400
 

by Mary Jo

Once upon a time, in that distant day before the internet and .jpg files and indie ebook publishing, receiving your cover from your publisher was a very big deal. You opened the envelope breathlessly, then studied the cover flat with joy, horror, or something in between. You flashed your cover proudly at conferences if you liked it, or moaned and asked for commiseration if you didn't.

The original cover of Uncommon Vows is not a favorite of mine. It was fairly eye catching, Uncommon Vows--originalI like the colors, and it fulfilled the basic requirement of getting hair colors right: he's a very fair Norman blond, she has dark hair like the half Welsh heroine.

BUT–he looks like a 17 year old California surfer dude with a pompadour. A convincing and deadly knight? Not so much. Plus, in the first version they sent, you could see the angled raglan seams on the shoulders of his sweatshirt. I howled about that (raglan sleeves????) and they changed it, but still. Not to mention that with those slashes in his shirt, why no blood?

The heroine has dark hair, but instead of being a slim, fey forest sprite, she looks like a busty barmaid who has been around the track a few too many times. And with the falcon on her unprotected arm, again there should be blood! There's a reason why falcon handlers have leather arm protectors. <G>

 

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